Tuesday, August 05, 2014

A chronology of paying attention (19): Farewell Gifts

In this season that my time is called for in places other than writing new posts, my Father gave me this idea:  Ponder and notice again the words I've already written once, keep praying the beads of memory in this sacramental life.  I've skipped about 20 years in the chronological order because this week marks our three-year anniversary in Austin.  Three years ago today I shared this post about the lavish generosity our New York friends.  I don't ever want to forget it.

Farewell Gifts

wrote about our friends giving us a fond farewell with so many abundantly-spilled-out gifts, right?  I thought I'd share a few excerpts and photos here in this space.

First of all, there've been worker-bee type gifts, getting our house ready to sell:  (several of these were the same horse-bee-angel people I told you about helping us move into this same house three years ago!)

Then, there were the two, extra-mile friends (and their little cutie-pie) who helped us organize all of our crap gently-used items for a big, ol' moving sale.  Plus, all the wonderful people who showed up to support us in the blazing heat and bought stuff (and I'm thinking more than a few of them bought stuff just to be nice.)

I didn't take a picture of the garage sale. Pretty average stuff.
 But this dinner to celebrate with our generous, kind-hearted, helper friends
 was way above-average Chinese cooking!

All along, behind my back, the Worship & Arts team I've been privileged to serve with for 13 years and lead for the last three were putting together the World's Most Perfect Farewell Party.  

It looked a bit like this:

With amazing works of culinary art that looked something like this:

After that, these people gave words, songs, laughs, and other assorted gifts with jaw-dropping generosity.  They made me laugh and they made me cry.  Sometimes both at the same time:

But, mostly, they made me cry.  Like when Coleen read an essay of the last eight years of our family's friendship.
"Let's go to Cleveland" we all said. "Test the waters of a Murphy/Gravelding mini-family vacation. If it sucks, at least we've seen the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame." 
So we all chuck our anxiety-filled rejection issues about close friendships and decide to go all-in."

Scott's song-words in "Laughter and Lament":
"Seems like yesterday, church bells, Boston, October morning...
So swift the news came, left us feeling stranded without a warning.
But this family is bigger than a couple of thousand miles...So we'll put on our good brave face...and smile.
It's not phony you see, just a little hard to accept...Your stepping out, even letting go of dreams you've kept.
Cue the heartstrings, enough sad things...choking words too many or too few.
Strike up the band, let's join hands...maybe a praise chorus will do.
Everybody sing where you are...Tomorrow we may be too far
From each other and one another.
Everybody listen when we go...Hear the journey God only knows
The laughter and lament as we ebb and flow...."

Andrea's song, "Piece of You":
"We have shared each other's sorrows
Validated hurts and fears
Loudly applauded days of triumph
Bared our souls and witnessed tears
But we both know every great story twists and changes
Unexpected bends in the road
when today becomes little more than a memory,
I want you to know, I want you to know
There's a piece of you written up on me."

Brett's poem, "The Table":

"The anchoress has walked without a camera, with one hand plunged in
Puget Sound and the other in your exploding right.
She cries 'Glorious! Incandescent!' as she feels the spinning hole spin.
           The light
That burned her wings is showing mine within
The Mirror of Day's silver backing, Night.

It issues shimmering from shivering kingdom culverts. Before me
Tonight in light of its veilless valence I am able 
To see each molecule vibrate within this glow-glory
And I in trance substantial tell its story
Of insatiable realness, exorbitant and stable."

There was so much more. Dawn and Debbie's unassuming hilarity, Pastor Sal's words of affirmation, Christine's unknown challenge to me from Proverbs 31, Margaret's superb selection of readings from L'Engle.  And presents. Oh the presents!  Money to purchase art, hand-crafted jewelry, photographs and drawings.  I am a woman welled-over with gratitude.

And there's more to say.  But not today.  Today I need to sleep for a few hours and then pack my four courageous, kingdom-culvert children plus one speckly dog into two cars and follow my husband to Austin.  We're still licking our wounds a bit, I'll admit.  Still in mourning over lost dreams.  Still shaking our heads at the lunacy of leaving behind these once-in-a-lifetime kind of friendships.

But I'm thinking long about Louisville or Little Rock, we'll throw our black armbands out the window and holler at  the big Texas sky.  Or maybe, as the lyrics in my friend Scott's song:
"Just maybe you will be singing this song
When the whole Murphy clan grabs Austin by the hand and says,
'Baby, here we are'..."

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